Meditation: You’re Doing It Right

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I’ve read a lot of posts by bloggers frustrated because they can’t meditate right. Or it just doesn’t “work” for them. I had the same experience for many years. And there’s a lot of money being made convincing us that there’s a single way to meditate or even a “best” way to meditate.

Lies. All damn lies.

The “best” and only way to meditate is whatever works for you.

Thoughts roll through your mind, seemingly endlessly? Completely normal. We have in excess of 60,000 thoughts every day. So, yeah, a few are going to flitter in at inconvenient times. As davidji says, “Let your thoughts be like clouds passing through. You be unconcerned.”

Life still stuck in neutral, or worse stuck in the gear of “suck”? Completely normal and incredibly frustrating. I’ve been meditating daily for almost three years and I’ve found that the effects of meditation are cumulative. Events that made me lose my s**t three years ago are a little easier to handle. Some are easier than others. Sure, there are multiple factors influencing my ability to tolerate stupidity or unfairness, but I attribute staying calm internally in a lot of situations to my meditation practice.

Still not convinced? Here’s a TED Talk about the importance of simply allowing yourself to be still for 10 minutes a day:

Seriously, whatever needs your attention or has to be worried about will still be there in 10 minutes. Those 10 minutes are going to pass no matter what you do with them. It’s up to you to consciously decide how to use them. Quit worrying about your thought bubbles, focus on your breath, and just float here and now for a few minutes.

I even use the “ohm” mantra sometimes. Totally works for me.

In The Remedial Class on Forgiveness

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I’ve been separated for two and a half years, and neck-deep in the legal process of divorce for 12 months. I’ve wrestled with the idea of forgiving Voldemort pretty much every one of those 750+ days.

He was the first thought I had every morning for months. The last thought I had before sleep, too. These weren’t nice thoughts. In the very beginning, I was worried he was suicidal, later I simply wished for vengeance.

I read about forgiveness. I meditated on forgiveness and compassion. I’ve had a couple of a-ha moments when I’ve forgiven him in my heart for very specific things. But I’m still angry, resentful, and hurt. I still feel he made a choice and paid no price for it.

What I realized recently, though, is that he’s no longer the first or last thought I have every day. And I think that change is due partly because of time and distance, but mostly it’s because our lives are finally becoming untangled.

Once the house is sold (please for the love of all that’s holy, let the house sell soon), a huge component of our partnership is gone.

That’s a relief.

We seem to be reaching an end to the settlement negotiations finally, so our legal partnership will be severed.

The more time, distance, and resolution I receive, the more I’m able to move forward with action on my needs, my wants, my hopes. Not having to deal with his colossal mess will allow me a true fresh start.

And I’m hopeful that having that distance will make forgiveness more available. At a minimum, I’d like to get to a place where I’m not actively resenting him. That’s just not part of the life in front of me.

Lost in a Book

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I’m a lifelong voracious reader. I’d rather read a book than do just about any other leisure activity. I’m not even going to pretend that I’m engaging in a slow perusal of high-brow classics — I like urban fantasy, mystery, paranormal romance, thrillers, and even the occasional non-fiction offering. No Jane Austen here.

I used to do a monthly blog post of mini-reviews of the books I’d read the previous month and that was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, last August when I was served with divorce papers, I developed a terrible side effect. I found I could no longer focus my mind enough to read.

When I needed it most, I couldn’t read.

And when I tried, assuming I could get past that one paragraph I’d read over and over and over again, I hated the stories. I found that nothing held my interest; the characters were insipid; the plots ridiculous.

It wasn’t the books.

It was me.

Spending so much time completely immersed in the legal process of divorce and its requirement to think about and deal with Voldemort, I was unable to escape the emotional aftereffects and simply enjoy a good book. This lasted about six very long months.

Once the settlement meeting and moving to a new home were behind me, I became more relaxed and was able to actually read a book again. I still hated a lot of what I read and wasn’t sure if the stories were lacking or if I was still stuck in a pissy, judgmental place.

As time passed, I’ve been able to reclaim my love of reading. I’ve once again found my equilibrium and can absolutely discern when I’m just not in the mood for a particular story versus a story that isn’t well written. It’s a relief and a joy to open my Kindle (587 books waiting to be read!) or go to the library (thousands of choices!). I once again crave the simple pleasure of being lost in a book for an hour or a day.

Marriage may not last forever, but books are lifelong friends. Have you lost or given up an activity you really loved during stressful times? Did you ever go back to it? Did you discover something new? And how did you handle the stress without your favorite hobby?

Conquering Shame

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A year ago, I was served with divorce papers. And in those papers my almost-former spouse claimed I had a bachelor’s degree in English. He knew this was a gaping wound for me. He chose to pour salt into it.

It was a direct challenge to me. I could either let it slide, subjecting myself to the future income claims such a statement insinuated or I could embrace my shame.

I chose to own my lousy choices and embrace the shame.

I took freakin’ forever to get my degree. And in the end, I completed all the coursework for the English degree, but I simply could not pass the Mathematics exit exam.

I tried at least a half dozen times. I studied. I got tutoring.

I missed a passing score by one or two points every time.

It was frustrating, humiliating, demoralizing. With typical youthful arrogance, I decided I would deal with it later. I got a job. Then a husband, a promotion, and eventually a layoff notice and three kids.

Later is long past. It’s time to deal with this. I’m sick of feeling ashamed of myself for being such a moron. I’m tired of feeling like a liar.

I finally contacted the University’s academic advisors and started the ball rolling to find out what exactly I need to do to finish that degree. First, they have to go find the microfiche with my transcripts (not even kidding, I attended so long ago that my records are on microfiche). Then the transcripts will be scanned and evaluated. In the meantime, the extremely professional and understanding advisor recommended I take a math class at the community college. She was already trying to find a work-around for math-addled me.

I went to the community college and took the assessment test. Y’know what? I placed into Elementary Algebra. Go, me! I thought I’d forgotten every single thing I ever knew about Algebra (which really wasn’t much), and even though it felt like my brain would explode, I dug deep and solved those problems.

I’m going to make Algebra my bitch.

I’m going to take one of the decisions I regret most in my life and turn it into something I’m proud of. It’s going to take at least two college math classes, and very likely some additional upper division courses at the University, but I’m going to finish what I started 34 years ago.

Go to hell, Voldemort. I may have to find a part-time, minimum wage job and scrape to get by, but I’m proud of myself. I have nothing to be ashamed of.*

*Well, except ending that sentence with a preposition, but that’s artistic license, not shameful.

Estrogen Envy

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I’m going through menopause. It’s more accurate to say I’m being dragged through menopause kicking and sweating. I’ve been going through menopause for years, which I found out is completely normal and expected.

Well, no one ever told me it would take friggin’ years. Just like no one in Lamaze class ever mentioned that there would be copious amounts of blood for weeks after giving birth. How ‘bout a heads-up on this stuff?

I found some things that helped with the symptoms. I felt better when I was careful to eat very healthy food (lots of fruits and vegetables). I felt better if I exercised daily. I felt better if I meditated.

But none of that is helping much anymore. I have hot flashes and night sweats all the time. I may be short-tempered and hard to live with, but my roommates (aka my teenage kids) are so riddled with adolescent hormones they rarely speak to me, so I’m not sure if it’s me or them.

Getting hormone replacement therapy is damn near impossible. My doctor, a woman the traitor, takes a very dim view of HRT in menopause. It can lead to heart attacks, strokes, blah, blah, blah. Oh please. Unchecked menopause can lead to alcoholism and attempted murder, so really, what’s worse? It would be easier to score heroin than estrogen around here.

Would it actually be even easier to get a medical marijuana prescription?

Yeah, probably.

Stuck With Waiting

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The buyers who are in escrow for the marital home have had a second escrow fall through on their condo. Our house sale is contingent on them selling their current home and that just ain’t happenin’.

Voldemort has had the marital settlement agreement for almost four months and hasn’t made a peep to my attorneys. If I were a gambler, I’d bet he’s waiting for the house to sell, but that’s taking forevah.

So I’m stuck.  Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.

Just Call Me An iSheeple

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I’ve held my own against the smartphone/iPhone tide. I’ve clung to my little flip-phone (aka burner phone) for eight years. Then this happened:

A few weeks ago, I went to an event alone and saw one of kid #3’s friends. Friend of #3 had colored her hair the most amazing shade of blue in honor of an anime character from Persona 4 whom they both like. I said, “I love your hair! #3 will be sorry she wasn’t here to see it!”

Friend of #3: (laughing) “Just take a picture with your phone.” (Poses.)

Me: “Ummm, I don’t think my phone has a camera.” (Check to be sure.) “Nope, no camera.”

Friend of #3: (Look of horrified teenage pity shot my way.)

And last week we (#1, #3, and I) went to the mall, an awful enough experience on its own, right? #3 wanted to go to a huge candy store while #1 and I went to JCPenney. No problem, we agreed to meet her at the benches right outside the sweet shop in 30 minutes.

You know what happened, of course. What always happens when you violate the first rule of suburban survival (never split up at the mall).  She wasn’t there. This was partly due to the fact that there were a total of three cashiers in the entirety of Penney’s 20,000 square foot store and we ran late. But still.

I tried calling #3 on her phone. Got voice mail. Waited five minutes. Got the brilliant idea to text her. On my flip-phone without a Qwerty keyboard.  Oh heavenly days, it took me almost 10 minutes to tap out the following:

were at candy store where r u

It was almost physically painful to hit send. I couldn’t find the cap button, much less any punctuation whatsoever. And by the end of that missive, I completely understood why it’s acceptable to use “r” for “are” and “u” for “you.” I was exhausted.

We reunited eventually and I ordered a refurbished iPhone 4 as soon as we got home. Apparently, I do have some actual use for a phone that does more than make and receive voice calls.

So I’ll be joining the iCrowd as soon as it ships and I figure out how to work the damn thing.

For the record, in her first month as a smartphone owner, kid #3 sent and received 2,237 text messages. I have no idea how she communicated before.

More Dead Trees

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Kid #3 starts high school in about two weeks. I’ve already put in a couple of hours going to the district office to fill out forms for an intradistrict transfer and following up with the school to get her registered. The school doesn’t actually register new students until a few days before classes start, so I didn’t get that paperwork until last week.

And her last name was misspelled. My last name was spelled correctly. We have the same last name. Huh? Since it’s still summer break, my calls went unanswered, even though I called during the hours the outgoing message claimed the school was staffed. I finally sent the registrar an email and she got the name corrected within 10 minutes.

Okay, lesson learned. From this point forward I’m communicating with the school via email whenever possible.

Registration forms are filled out online through a supposedly secure parent portal. (So why’d they send me two packets of papers? Those were the instructions to fill out the online forms, G*d help me.) I’m guessing an enterprising 12 year old could probably hack the system, but for my 52 year old mom purposes, it was secure enough. It took the better part of an hour to fill out the 10 pages of material.

I got really hung up on the family contacts page. According to both the Family Court Services (FCS) mediator and our Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA), I have sole physical custody and we share joint legal custody. But the MSA hasn’t been signed or finalized so I don’t have any documentation to back that up. Is it even appropriate to put Voldemort down as an emergency contact? #3 would rather die from the Black Plague than get in Voldemort’s car to go to the doctor. And since he’s never taken her to the doctor, he wouldn’t know where to go anyway.

I decided I was legally bound to put him in the “parent 2” slot on the form, but only checked the emergency contact box. I’m in the “parent 1” slot with all the boxes (including “has custody”) checked.

Once I did that, a new screen popped up asking for his contact information. Crap. I’m sure his address is on the divorce petition, but is this really my responsibility? The FCS report clearly states that each parent is responsible for contacting the school directly for school calendars, progress reports, report cards, and parent-teacher conferences. Should I give the school his home address or his work address? His cell phone number or his office number?

Any information at all?

I compromised by giving his email address. Once #3 is actually registered (we have to go in and finish the process next week), I’ll ask the school how this mess is usually sorted. Then I’ll email Voldemort and let him know.

The FCS report is crystal clear, but in the settlement meeting eight freaking months ago, Mr. Men’s Rights Attorney gave me a monologue on how I’m supposed to make sure the school has Voldemort’s email address for teacher communications, and on and on. Mr. Men’s Rights’ instructions blatantly contradicted the FCS report with a focus on making things as convenient as possible for Voldemort while placing the burden for getting things done on me.

My divorce feels a lot like my marriage in that way.

How To Create A Monster

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Kid #3 turned 14 last month. I know! I can hardly believe it either. She starts high school at the end of this month, too.

I didn’t want her to go to high school without a cell phone, mostly because I have nightmares of her stuck in the middle of a SWAT action with no way to get hold of me. (Not really sure what I could do in a SWAT action, but the upshot is the kid needed a cell phone…just in case.)

My friend, Google, really came through for me on this. I found a no-contract service provider* that charges based on actual usage instead of guessing what her needs might be any given month (and probably overpaying, which just pisses me off).

So I bought her a smartphone for her birthday.

At first, she was supremely unimpressed and indifferent.

That lasted about two hours.

Over her birthday weekend, she sent and received more than 100 texts. As of this writing, she’s up to 1,156 texts. And we’ve still got a week left in the billing period.

I may have created a monster.

 

*Because of the cookies and other stuff I don’t understand how to change, this is an affiliate link. If you click through it and end up signing up, you’ll get a $25 credit and so will I. If you want to avoid that, just google “ting.com.”  I can wholeheartedly recommend their customer service — they’re awesome.  And you can’t beat the price…but if you do, please tell me!

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